Dave Matthews is the lead singer and guitarist of the immensely popular Dave Matthews band. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 9, 1967. The son of John and Val Matthews, Dave was 1 of 4 children.
His dad was a physicist for IBM, so they moved around quite a lot. Before finally settling in Virginia, the family lived in several locations in Africa, England, and the United States. Matthews began playing guitar at this time.
Sadly, Dave's father passed away in 1977. That's when he settled in Charlottesville, Virginia with his mom. It was here that Matthews would meet his fellow band mates and The Dave Matthews band would be born.
Still going since 1991
The band has been going strong since 1991 when they formed in Charlottesville, Virginia. They started playing gigs around town, particularly the University of Virginia, near to where Dave himself worked as a bartender.
Eventually, they started their own label, Bama Rags, to produce their own EP. It wasn't long after that the guys caught the attention of RCA records.
Their first album, Under The Table, was released in 1994. The record went 6 times platinum. The album was dedicated to Dave's sister Anne, who was sadly killed by her husband. Rather than destroy him, this horrific loss inspired Dave and the rest of the band to dedicate themselves to helping others.
By 1999, the band had released 2 more hit albums, Crash and These Crowded Streets. They had not only won Grammys, but sold millions of albums and were selling out concerts all over the world. They decided it was the perfect time to start giving back.
What Does Dave Matthews Do For Charity?
In 1999, the band as a whole decided they wanted to help their hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. They knew, had it not been for all of them being in this special place at the right time, there would have been no band.
So they developed The Bama Works Fund. The organization (run by the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation) had the original goal of helping the disabled and disadvantaged youth in the area.
It soon grew to include environmental endeavors, local arts programs, cancer, AIDS, homelessness, and violence against women. Though their primary focus is on the state of Virginia, they are always ready to help people in need all over the world.
To date, this Dave Matthews charity has raised over $54 million and given over 200 grants to various causes including:
1. AIDS/HIV Services
Funds go directly to those people in the Charlottesville area to assist with medication, medical supplies, and their individual needs.
2. Charlottesville Historical Society
Grants were awarded to help preserve the historical heritage of the area.
3. African American Teaching Fellows
This organization works to assist people of color in achieving their dream of becoming teachers and college professors.
4. Housing Improvement Alliance
Helps those in need to find affordable and safe housing.
5. Charlottesville Riding Therapy
An equestrian organization that helps children with disabilities through horseback riding.
6. New Orleans Habitat For Humanity
After the disastrous hurricane New Orleans suffered, Bama Works granted funds to help build homes for people that were displaced.
7. The ARC of Charlottesville
This organization assists people with developmental disabilities in finding work, housing, and social activities.
8. The Youth Orchestra Of Central Virginia
This organization helps develop and nurture the talent of young musicians. Not only through education and instruction, but by providing what they need to perform. This includes everything from instruments to clothing.
9. Meals On Wheels If Charlottesville
Meals on Wheels brings no-cost meals for seniors and the disabled who are unable to leave their homes.
10. American Cancer Society
This organization funds cancer research, educates the public, and helps people living with cancer.
11. Sexual Assault Services
The Bama fund has granted money to several organizations in Virginia to assist victims of sexual assault with medical services, therapy, and legal fees.
These are just a few snippets of the organizations that the Dave Matthews Band Bama Charity has helped. For a complete list, visit their website.
They've Raised over $54 Million
To help fund their charity, the band gives free concerts, auctions off musical equipment and personal memorabilia.
One would think that Dave and the band could stop here in their charitable endeavors. After all, there's no other musical group that has raised over $54 million to help others.
But no, when the band is not working together to fund their Bama Works charity, they all have their own individual ways of giving back.
Dave in particular loves answering calls for help. He rarely turns down an opportunity or offers to give back or inspire others to do the same.
For example, in 2020, during the height of the Corona virus pandemic, the graduating class at University of Virginia was forced to have a virtual graduation ceremony. Dave surprised the group by popping up on the screen, giving a pep talk, and singing, "From Windows."
Also in 2020, Matthews took part in "Pay It Forward Live", a streaming event sponsored by Verizon. The weekly broadcast had different celebrities perform live. Verizon matched donations up to $2.5 million.The money went to support small businesses and workers who were affected by the pandemic.
Board of Directors for Farm Aid
Dave also serves on the board of directors for Farm Aid. This is an organization that helps family farmers across the United States.
He's also been very active in Headcount, a non-partisan grassroots campaign to get people registered to vote.
Dave spent much of his childhood in the area and saw the injustice first hand, so he jumped at the chance to help. Triumphantly, the organization disbanded when apartheid was abolished.
Matthews also donates to and volunteers with the Special Olympics, the international organization that promotes sports for people with disabilities.
In addition to all of this, Dave often donates to food banks and homeless shelters across the United States.
When he's not touring, recording, or raising money for charity, Dave enjoys being home with his family. In 2000, he married his longtime partner, Jennifer Harper. The couple welcomed twin girls in 2001 and a son in 2007.
The family resides in Seattle, Washington, where they live in a cozy 3- bedroom home. Matthews also owns thousands of acres of property in Virginia, which include a vineyard, recording studio, and open land.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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